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Sustainable Kitchen Tips for Vanlife Living:

by | Jul 25, 2023 | Vanlife Tips | 0 comments

How to Reduce Waste While on the Road

Vanlife living has become increasingly popular in recent years as more people seek adventure, freedom, and a simpler way of life. However, living in a van or other tiny space can present its own unique set of challenges, particularly when it comes to sustainability. With minimal space, restricted resources, and limited access to facilities, it can be difficult to reduce waste and minimize your environmental impact. But with a little creativity and some simple changes to your habits and routines, it’s possible to live a more sustainable lifestyle on the road or off grid. In this blog, we’ll explore some practical and easy-to-implement tips for reducing waste in your van kitchen or tiny home setup.

Minimize single-use plastics

One of the biggest challenges of vanlife living is managing waste, especially plastic waste. Here are some tips to help you reduce your use of single-use plastics:

  • Use reusable water bottles and containers: Instead of buying single-use plastic water bottles, invest in a durable and reusable water bottle that you can refill at water stations or natural sources. Glass, stainless steel, and silicone are popular alternatives to plastic bottles. 
  • Bring your own reusable bags: When shopping for groceries, bring your own reusable bags instead of relying on plastic bags. Canvas totes, beach bags, and backpacks are wonderful – and super sturdy – reusable bag alternatives. 
  • Use reusable food storage containers: Instead of relying on disposable plastic containers, invest in reusable food storage containers that you can use to store leftovers and meal prep. Glass, ceramic, and silicone are popular food-storage alternatives to plastic containers. 
  • Use a refillable coffee cup: If you’re a coffee lover like me, bring your own reusable cup instead of using disposable cups from coffee shops. My ceramic coffee travel mug never leaves my side!

Embrace composting

Composting is a great way to reduce your food waste and create nutrient-rich soil for plants. Here are some tips for composting in your van:

  • Use a small compost bin: Purchase a small compost bin that fits in your van kitchen and is easy to empty when needed. Remember: eggshells, fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, and other plant-based products are perfectly OK to compost, but definitely NO animal products like bones, meat scraps, anything dairy, greasy, and inorganic material.  
  • Use compostable bags: Instead of plastic bags, use compostable bags to line your compost bin.
  • Composting toilets: As the name suggests, composting toilets like Cuddy actually create rich compost! If you’re stationary for 6+ months, you can use this compost in your outdoor garden.
  • Compost responsibly: Research local regulations and guidelines for composting in the areas where you’ll be traveling to ensure that you’re composting responsibly.

Cook with sustainable ingredients

Choosing sustainable ingredients is an important part of reducing your environmental impact. Here are some tips for cooking sustainably in your van:

  • Buy local and in-season produce: Look for farmer’s markets and local produce stands to find fresh, in-season produce that hasn’t traveled far. Plus, it tastes better too! 
  • Choose plant-based meals: Eating plant-based meals can be a more sustainable option than meat-based meals. Remember: pre-packaged highly-processed “vegan food” is NOT the same as healthy plant-based eating!

10 Easy Tips for Reducing Waste and Living Sustainably

Here are 10 more quick tips for going eco-friendly while on-the-go:

  1. Use cotton towels and cloth napkins instead of disposable paper products.
  2. Buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste and save money in the long run.
  3. Use a portable water filter or purifier instead of buying bottled water.
  4. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked when they’re ripest, so you’ll always have a store of healthy greens without the risk of rot.  
  5. Use eco-friendly cleaning products to avoid harsh chemicals and reduce your impact on the environment.
  6. Try to reduce food waste by planning meals ahead and only buying what you need.
  7. Use reusable straws instead of disposable plastic straws.
  8. Avoid individually packaged snacks and opt for larger packages that you can portion out yourself.
  9. Consider using a portable composting toilet like Cuddy to reduce water usage and minimize your impact on the environment.
  10. Finally, remember to recycle whenever possible and dispose of your waste responsibly, especially when in nature or in areas without proper waste management facilities.


Vanlife embraces sustainability, but it’s certainly not without its challenges! Living sustainably on the road is not just good for the environment—it’s also wonderful for enhancing your vanlife experience. By adopting these sustainable kitchen tips in your van or other tiny space, you can minimize waste, reduce environmental impact, and create a more enjoyable, fulfilling vanlife journey. Onwards to adventure!


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